Delicious Twists on Shepherd’s Pie to Make for Dinner

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a home cook more than the thought of making a pie. The crust alone is enough to make you want to give up and the filling can be tricky to get right, often coming out too thin or too thick. Unless it’s a shepherd’s pie. These potato-topped casseroles have all the comforting taste you’d expect from something made with pastry, but are substantially easier to make. Try one of these six variations for a meal that’s stress-free and 100% comforting.

1. Steakhouse Shepherd’s Pie

wooden bowl filled with mashed potatoes and bacon

Mashed potato dish | iStock.com

A trip to your favorite steakhouse wouldn’t be complete without a blue cheese-topped steak, a loaded baked potato, and at least one other side. While undeniably delicious, this feast can really put a dent in your wallet. Make Rachael Ray’s steak supper-inspired shepherd’s pie, featured on Food Network, for a meal that’s every bit as satisfying and much less expensive. For even more of a restaurant vibe, make some creamed spinach to serve on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • Salt
  • ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ pound button mushrooms, quartered
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chives
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions: Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, season water with salt, and cook until potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving a ladle of the cooking liquid.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and bacon. Cook until bacon is crisp, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Add beef to pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook until tender, about 6 to 7 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Once melted, whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef stock, while constantly whisking, until incorporated. Add Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper. Cook until thickened, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Pour sauce over meat. Turn broiler to high.

Beat hot potato liquid into egg yolk in a small bowl, Add potatoes back to same hot pot and let dry a bit. Mash potatoes with egg mixture and sour cream. Folk in blue cheese and chives. Season with salt and pepper, then spread over filling. Garnish with paprika and transfer to the broiler. Cook until top browns, about 2 to 3 minutes. Crumble bacon over top and serve.

2. Winter Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

white casserole dish filled with shepherd's pie being scooped out

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

Just because shepherd’s pie traditionally contains meat doesn’t mean vegetarians have to feel left out. Food & Wine puts a meat-free twist on the classic comfort food with this Winter Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie. For an even richer taste, add some sliced mushrooms to the mix. And heads up, make sure to use vegetable stock if you’re cooking this dish for any vegetarian friends.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 4 cups sliced mixed winter vegetables, such as celery, turnips, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, fennel, cabbage, and celery root
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Directions: Place potatoes in a medium saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and add to same hot pot along with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Mash over low heat, gradually adding cream and 4 tablespoons butter. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter over medium-low heat in a Dutch oven. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in vegetables, carrots, thyme, and remaining salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Stir broth into vegetable mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium high, and cook until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes longer.

Heat broiler. Transfer vegetables to a 9-inch pie plate and spread potatoes over top. Broil until top is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Serve.

3. Pork, Portobello, and Mashed Roots Shepherd’s Pie

assorted root vegetables including parsnips, potatoes, and peeled carrots

Root vegetables | iStock.com

If regular mashed potatoes are starting to feel boring, try changing things up by using some different veggies. Better Homes & Gardens tops their pork and mushroom shepherd’s pie with a creamy concoction made with rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes, which gives the mash more depth and a hint of sweetness. This recipe also uses the slow cooker to make the filling, so you can start it in the morning, then make the mash near the end of the cook time.

While we love the unique topping in this recipe, not everyone wants to spend that much additional time cooking before digging into a slow cooker meal. For nights when you’re in a hurry, just pick up some premade mashed potatoes from the store on your way home. Add the spuds to the slow cooker, clap on the lid, and you’ll be sitting down to dinner in 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds lean ground pork
  • 5 cups stemmed and chopped fresh portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 cup chopped carrots, divided
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped rutabaga
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped potato
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped parsnips
  • ¼ cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Snipped fresh chives

Directions: In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, cook pork, mushrooms, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until meat is brown and mushrooms are tender, using a wooden spoon to break up meat. Drain off any accumulated fat.

Add mixture to a 4-quart slow cooker along with broth, celery, 1 cup carrots, tapioca, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3½ to 4 hours.

About 1 hour before serving, cook rutabaga, potato, parsnips, and remaining carrots in enough boiling water to cover for 25 to 30 minutes, or until very tender. Drain and return to same hot pan. Mash vegetables with milk and ½ teaspoon salt.

If using low heat, switch setting to high. Stir in peas, spoon mashed vegetables over top, cover, and cook 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

4. Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

serving of shepherd's pie made with chicken and vegetables

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

Very few people enjoy eating the same leftover roast chicken day after day. Instead of piling the poultry on yet another sandwich, turn it into a super easy shepherd’s pie with Honest Cooking’s recipe. Because the chicken is already cooked, the filling comes together in no time. If you don’t have any leftover chicken on hand, pick up a rotisserie bird from the store.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped leftover roast chicken
  • ⅓ cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place potatoes in a pot, cover with salted water, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook vegetables until tender, but not browned. Reduce heat to low and stir in flour. Stir to combine and let mixture cook for a bit. Gradually stir in the chicken stock and cook until thickened. Stir in a bit of water to thin, if needed. Remove from heat and stir in chicken and peas. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain potatoes, then add back to same pot. Mash with mustard, butter, and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Divide filling among individual ramekins or transfer to one baking dish. Top evenly with mashed potatoes. Bake until bubbling and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Serve.

5. Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie, potatoes

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

While meat pies go by a number of different names, shepherd’s pie supposedly earned its title because it includes lamb. According to JamieOliver.com, savory pies made with other meats should actually be called cottage pies. Though Epicurious’s casserole with lamb and eggplant contains the the traditional meat, it’s far cry from what most folks in the U.K. would recognize. Whatever you call it, this Greek-inspired dish is completely delicious.

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 1 (1½-pound) eggplant, unpeeled, cut into ¾- to 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds well-trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • All-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Topping

  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1¼ cups packed coarsely grated kasserie or pecorino cheese

Directions: Sprinkle eggplant with salt on a rimmed baking sheet and let stand for 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Rinse and pat very dry.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Season lamb generously with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add half of lamb and cook until well browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining lamb and 2 tablespoons oil.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to same pot. Add onions, cover, and cook over medium-low heat until very tender, about 10 minutes. Bottom of pot will be very dark. Add wine, increase heat, and boil until wine has evaporated, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth, garlic, and oregano. Bring to a boil, add lamb and accumulated juices, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour. Uncover and continue to simmer until lamb is very tender and sauce thickens slightly, about 45 minutes longer. Stir in eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 14 minutes.

Meanwhile melt butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in milk and bring to a simmer.

Drain potatoes, return to pot, and stir over medium heat to evaporate excess moisture. Add milk mixture and mash until just smooth. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Dollop potatoes over filling to cover completely. Bake until heated trough and top is golden, about 45 minutes. Serve.

6. Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato

shepherd's pie in an individual dish with a sweet potato topping

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

Our Four Forks’s Moroccan-style shepherd’s pie lets you take a trip to North Africa without so much as leaving your kitchen. This delicious dish is brimming with fragrant spices, herbs, and even some dried fruit for a touch of sweetness. It’s also incredibly satisfying thanks to a double dose of protein from lamb and chickpeas. It might not be the same as taking a vacation, but it comes close.

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes from a can
  • ½ cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup currants or raisins
  • ½ bunch cilantro, stemmed and chopped, plus more

Topping

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions: Brown meat in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add oil to same pan, then stir in onions, garlic, ginger, 1 teaspoon cumin, cinnamon, and chili powder. Season with salt. Cook until vegetables have softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Return meat to pan and add honey, tomatoes, and stock. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in chickpeas, currants, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover potatoes with salted water, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and return to same pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and milk. Mash until just creamy.

Spread sweet potatoes evenly over filling, transfer to oven, and bake for 40 minutes, or until top begins to brown. Sprinkle with additional cilantro and serve.

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